#HealthyNewYear

Happy New Year!!!

Did you survive the holiday frenzy?  I will admit that for the first time in a number of years we had a very calm and relaxed holiday season.  Celebrations were spread out enough to not cause a raucous.  The new year was rung in quietly with friends, kiddos and an entertaining evening of cards.

…and the best news…  my pants still fit!!!!!!!

I did it.  I managed to get through the months of November and December, into January WITHOUT gaining any unnecessary weight.  I will admit there were a few pound of water weight gained, but it was somewhat unavoidable with some of the dinners attended.  The water weight is much easier to get back in control of than actual FAT weight gain.

How did you do with #55milesinDecember?  Did you hit the goal?  Were you able to get outside and move that body?  I came close to thinking I wasn’t going to make the mark.  A few unavoidable obstacles, engagements and errands kept me from my treks, but I slid in with just over 60 miles for the month.  PHEW!!!  I’d love to hear how you did.

Remember when I told you about one of my new adventures with the Kansas Health Foundation as a #SpokesMom?  I’m still at it and really enjoy sharing my personal health journey, tips and recipes with other Kansas parents.

Our assignment for the month of January is to share how we’ll be making 2015 a #HealthyNewYear.  What will we do to change or implement new healthy habits into our lifestyles?  What can we recommend to other parents?

Well, I just happen to be long winded enough that our Kansas Health Foundation liaison asked if I would write a blog post about my recommendations and ideas.  LOL!  I was happy to oblige.  So, for those of you who may be new to my page…  WELCOME!!!

Soooo…. What am I going to do to make 2015 healthier for my family….????

Honestly, I’m going to keep doing more of the same things I’ve already been doing, but MORE.

Last month I told you about Barilla’s Veggie pastas.

veggie pastaI’ve been buying these and using them in my own dishes and in just a few family dishes.  A friend just found the spaghetti at one of our local stores and picked up a box for me.  My goal is to completely replace standard pasta with these.  My kids don’t have to know that they’re full of veggies.  All they’ll know is that they’re fun colors.  I LOVE a good fake-out!!!

Speaking of fake-outs… My other tidbit of advice for incorporating more veggies into our diet is by “sneaking” them into meals where they’ll never be detected.  Whenever I make my homemade pasta sauce I always grate a carrot or two and at least a half of a zucchini.  I saute them while I brown my hamburger.  They cook down just enough and blend in well enough to almost be hidden by the red tomato sauce.  My kids never know the difference.  Another great place to add these shredded wonders in in meatloaf, meatballs and any handful of casseroles or soups.  Chopped mushrooms can be disguised in any number of creamy sauces/casseroles.

Salt intake is a constant battle for me personally.  My body can’t process it and in turn holds onto any and all water if I consume too much of it.  I take medication to help control it, but that’s not enough.  I have to be vigilant in monitoring my intake.  In learning about my own challenge with the salty wonder I’ve come to the realization that salt is in EVERYTHING and the amount we consume on a daily basis is ABSURD.  I’m working on converting my family to a lower sodium diet.  This hasn’t been the easiest of tasks because, let’s face it, salt tastes GOOD!

Here are a few places that I’ve started.

salt freeI’ve been using Lite Salt for years.  We’re so used to it that using regular salt is overwhelming.  After doing a little label reading I found that the FIRST ingredient in most seasoning blends is salt.  Not good.  I recently discovered McCormick’s Pinch Perfect Salt Free seasoning blends.  I REALLY like these.  The Garlic & Herb is pretty stellar.  Another place that’s EASY to cut back on salt is with canned goods.  Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand has started making salt free versions of most of the their canned beans, veggies and tomatoes.  “But they don’t TASTE as good…”, you say.  Okay…when was the last time you cracked open a can of beans and just started eating straight out of the can????  I didn’t think you could recall it.  If you’re adding these things to recipes you’ll NEVER miss the salt that they don’t have.  You can more reasonable salt your dishes this way.  By using these instead, I can control the amount of salt myself, in turn, not overdoing it.

Okay, I have the diet part down, so what about fitness???

If you’re new to my blog I’ll tell you about my movement challenges.  Back in September I decided to exercise more regularly.  I needed to bee more accountable for what I was trying to teach others.  I started going on daily walks.  I discovered a monthly mile challenge through an Instagram feed I follow.  I walked over 40 miles in October starting late in the month and completed November with 64.59 miles!!!  I wanted to do a challenge in December, but got impatient waiting for my IG friend to post one so I made up my own and spread the word to my own followers asking and encouraging anyone and everyone to join me.  I challenged myself and everyone else who wanted to join to #55milesinDecember.  December was a tough month.  Lots of hustle and bustle, engagements, parties, errands and a few days of bad weather kept me from my daily treks.

I want to tell you that when I started these challenges I was simply a walker.  I would walk 2.8 miles on my home route.  When I couldn’t fit a walk in at home I would walk on my lunch hour through the neighborhood my office sits in.  I made it a habit of walking AT LEAST 6 days a week, trying for all 7.

I have ALWAYS dreamed of being a runner, but I never felt that it was something my body could do.  I live in the country which means gravel roads for my walks.  I’ve always been preached to that running on gravel is a huge no-no.  …and I never felt like I could get the breathing right.  My lungs always felt on fire and that horrible “irony” taste was always in my mouth.  BLECK!!!  By November I wasn’t just walking, I was POWERWALKING.  I could walk my 2.8 miles in an average of 33 minutes.  That’s right at 5mph!!!  I was doing well.  Randomly, I’d run a small portion of my route, no more than a half mile at a time and certainly not every day.

Then, about two weeks ago I decided to change my route.  It’s a smoother road and more level, no hills.  One evening I just started running.  It felt amazing!!!  I wasn’t stumbling over the gravel.  I wasn’t twisting my ankles on loose rock.  I was OWNING the road.  I broke up the running throughout the trek and when I added it all up I had gone just over a MILE!  A few nights of that and I pushed myself further and ran a SOLID mile, uninterrupted!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m now up to a mile and a half of my 2.8!!!!

I. AM. A. RUNNER!!!!!!

30milesinjanuaryI NEVER thought I’d say that.  If you would have told me in September that I’d run a mile and a half non-stop WITHOUT the awful burning lungs and iron mouth I’d have laughed hysterically!!  I can say without the shadow of a doubt that I have NEVER felt this good!!!  I can’t believe how much these challenges have changed my life.  Setting small monthly goals like these makes getting to your ULTIMATE goal seem more attainable.

MY goal for 2015 is to RUN an entire 5K!!!!  I’m halfway there.  I have a race I’m working toward in May.  It’s MINE!

BECAUSE of how awesome I have felt by doing these, I’m starting my own challenges on my Instagram feed.  ANYONE is welcome to follow me @alishagibb and share in their own journey.  This month I decided to keep it simple for anyone who might be getting started on their own health journey.  You don’t have to run.  You can walk, bike, hop on the treadmill, ellypitcal or any other machine you’d like.  Just MOVE that body. I encourage anyone that wants to join to post their progress using #30milesinJanuary on Instagram or Facebook.  I LOVE to cheer everyone on and encourage changing lives for the better!!!

So there’s my #HealthyNewYear advice for 2015.  Try sneaking those veggies in and I challenge you to cut back on your salt, as well.  I REALLY hope you join me for my movement challenges.

May your new year be blessed with good health and fitness!!!!

 

Peace, love and NEW journeys!!!!

 

***Disclaimer: Barilla, McCormick, Morton and Wal-Mart have NO clue who I am.  I am not paid to endorse their products.  …I just really like them.  I’m sure there are many other brands/options out there offering the same healthy benefits.

Advertisements

Under A Rock?

First and foremost….

Please forgive me for my RIDICULOUS absence from this blog.

I have not been hiding under a rock, although there were days when that would have been a desirable place to be.  I didn’t go into hiding.  I didn’t come down with a bone stiffening ailment preventing me from typing my life and thoughts to you.

To put it simply… life just happened, as it does to most of us.  The past few months have been AMAZING months.  While I’m completely worn out and have had little time for the little things, I have been doing AWESOME stuff.

In September I partnered up with The Kansas Health Foundation to be a #SpokesMom.  A group of Kansas moms were asked to join together to promote healthy living and eating through our blogs, and social media sites for other parents in Kansas.  It’s been a really fun experience.

With that new adventure came a few realizations for myself.  I wasn’t holding myself accountable enough for what I was putting in my mouth and my physical activity.  If I was supposed to promote health and wellness I needed to be better about LIVING it!  I told you in the beginning of October that I was detoxing my body of processing sugars.  That was one of the hardest things to do.  I CONQUERED it!  For the entire month I only ate sugar 3 days of the 31.  Each of those were days I planned to allow myself the indulgence for whatever special occasion it was.

I got back on track with my food logging on myfitnesspal.com and started watching my salt intake much better.

…and I started my new addiction…

POWERWALKING!!!!

Powerwalk 2I started following this really inspirational and amazing gal on Instagram… Marta @hausofgirls_fitfamily.  She’s the one who inspired me to do the sugar detox.  She and her 3 sisters do 14 day sugar detoxes with anyone who wants to sign up.  While I didn’t sign up with them I took their advise and knew that I could do it on my own.  Marta also had a walk/run challenge in the month of October called #30milesinoctober.  The only prize for meeting the goal was your own self VICTORY and joy. I started it a little late in the month, but knocked out 43.75 in 21 days!!!!!

I felt AWESOME!!!  So, guess what?  When Marta set the #44milesinnovember challenge I took it head on!!!!  I started posting on Instagram and my personal Facebook page about my workouts to try to inspire others to join me.  It became my Kansas Health Foundation “thing”.

Powerwalk 1I tried extremely hard to not let ANYTHING become an excuse NOT to get out and move.  I went to my parent’s house for a weekend with my siblings and family.  I got up each morning and went for a 4 mile walk.  I kicked that hill’s tail two mornings in a row!!!  I’ll fully admit that it kicked mine in return.  I mean, my hind end and legs were SORE for a few days afterward.

When I’m not able to walk at home after work (which is quite often) I walk during my lunch hour.  Thirty minutes is all it takes to get a good workout/walk in.  I just pack a gym back with the appropriate clothes and shoes, deoderant and body spray.  It’s a REALLY great stress reliever in the middle of the day.  It’s amazing what those endorphins will do for the soul.

Powerwalk 3I REFUSED to let the cold temperatures be a reason NOT to exercise.  It was 22° with a 30 mph north wind on this particular day.  It stung.  I won’t lie, but it DROVE me to get my butt back home.

Powerwalk 5I even took on a bit of rain and the dark after a six hour round trip day in the car with my family.  I had been looking forward to my walk all day and the closer we got to home the colder the temps got and a steady light rain set in.  I was so close to talking myself out of it, but my heart had sunk.  I felt like I was really letting myself down by giving in to the rain.  I got in the house and my stubborn determination took over and I put my layers on and got after it.  The rain felt good on my face and the steady pitter-patter of the rain was soothing and rhythmic.  It was one of the best workouts I’ve had.  I felt AMAZING afterward.

In the midst of all of this I joined a Facebook group of local gals in a fitness/health/weight loss support group.  Each day is dedicated to a specific theme… Motivation Monday, Terrific Recipe Tuesday and so on.  We’re each supposed to post daily.  The group motivates and lifts each other up, giving advice and encouragement.  It’s been wonderful!  We each have awesome ideas and great motivation for each other.

The creator of the group posted a flier for our local Eggnog and Elf 5k Run happening during our community’s annual Country Christmas celebration, which was last Saturday.   I had never done ANYTHING like that.  I mean…. I ran track competitively in the EIGHTH grade…a million years ago.  But, that was as far as my competitive streak went.  I decided I was going to do this thing.  Why not?  I could powerwalk it.  I didn’t HAVE to run.  Right?  Right.

I will admit that there were several times, as the date drew near, that I had myself talked out of doing it.  It was REALLY outside of my comfort zone.  I’m pretty good at chickening out on things that I’m not exactly comfortable with.  I was REALLY close to calling it off the morning of…  I wasn’t feeling 100% that morning.  I’ve been working pretty hard at getting a cold for about a week now and that morning I could really feel it.

…but I got myself dressed and told myself that there was NO WAY I was going to let myself down or the girls who I had told I would attend.  I HAD to do it.

Powerwalk 7I DID IT, Elf socks and hat to boot!!!!!!!  I powerwalked the whole thing.  …and I wasn’t even the last one in.  I beat several of the walker/joggers!!!!  At the beginning of the race when I was “walking” one of the volunteers teased me that he could keep up with me since I was walking.  I just smiled…  Then he was at the halfway checkpoint.  He laughed and said, “I take that back.  There’s NO WAY I could keep up with you.  You walk way too fast!”  I just smiled, raised my eyebrow at him and waved as I huffed and puffed past him.

I was really proud of my accomplishment.  I hope it’s just the beginning of a lot more races/challenges.

I’m REALLY happy to report that I ended the #44milesinovember challenge with 25 total workouts and 64.59 miles!!!!

The best part of all of this is that the hard work has paid off!!!  I’ve trimmed back down.  The cottage cheese that was creeping back onto my legs is diminishing.  My waist is back in the range I like it to be and I just feel GOOD!!!!

I was hoping Marta would post another walk challenge for December, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Soooo….what do I do about it?  I make up my own.

How about #55milesindecember?  I think that sounds good.  What better way to battle the holiday bulge than BEFORE it attacks you?!  Will you join me?  Please?

Follow me on Instagram @alishagibb to see how I’m doing.

So, there you have it.  I really didn’t disappear.  I’ve just been focused on a few other things.  I’m hoping that I can fit this back into the craziness.  I really do love all of my readers and I know I’ve let you down.  Please forgive me.  It’s been all for good.

 

Peace, love and POWERwalks!!!

 

 

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Yesterday, another foodie friend/co-worker, aka Amy, shared with me a recipe she found for a skinny fettuccine alfredo.  She sent me a text message the night before raving over it and promising to share in the goodness.  I’ve always been a skeptic of skinny alfredo sauces because they’re either not really skinny or they don’t taste anything like alfredo sauce.  But… she and I have VERY similar tastes so I trusted her gut (literally, LOL!).

She gave me the recipe and a few pointers on things she would have changed.  I followed her advise and made it for supper last night. fettuccineAre you ready?

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

8 oz. whole wheat pasta (use any shape you desire)
8-10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp. olive oil
3 tsp. corn starch
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

In a large sauce pan cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken and 1 clove garlic until almost done. Before chicken is fully finished add mushrooms and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken is cooking stir together cornstarch and broth to make a slurry.

After removing the chicken and mushrooms, return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil. Saute remaining garlic for about 30-40 seconds in the oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the slurry to the pan and bring to a bubbling simmer. Whisk occasionally while it thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from heat and add the yogurt. Stir to combine completely until smooth. Add spinach and and chicken and mushroom mixture. Stir until the spinach wilts. Add pasta and toss until completely coated.

Serve!!

This stuff was OFF THE HOOK!

I loved it.  Grady tried it and he even thought it was pretty amazing.

I really like that you can EASILY make this a vegetarian meal by switching to vegetable broth and subbing in other fun veggies instead of the chicken.  …and if you’re on a low/no carb diet use a spaghetti squash instead of the pasta.

Want to know something funny?  I messed up a few measurements, adding 2 TBSP of oil and cornstarch each rather than 2 tsp like the original recipe called for.  I had to thin the sauce out with a little extra broth, but in the end the calorie count was still at 439 with the extra fat.  TOTALLY reasonable.

Here’s the skinny on the CORRECT measurements.  The recipe yields 4 (LARGE) servings, each serving is as follows: 389 calories, 9g fat, 43g carbs, (5g fiber), 39g protein and 871mg sodium.

I absolutely LOVE how protein packed this dish is!!!  The combination of the yogurt and chicken give this meal its power punch!  It will keep you satisfied and full.  The best part… no butter, no heavy cream and ALL the flavor!!!

Give it a try.  You won’t regret it.  …and get crazy and creative with your veggies. (I’m adding steamed broccoli next time!!!)

 

Peace, love and alfredo heaven!!!

Confession and Baring It All

I ate the cake.

I ate the delicious, frosting covered, moist, indulgent white wedding cake.  I enjoyed every single morsel of it.  …and I don’t feel guilty.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to eat the cake.  The food was an over-the-top version of every comfort food a Southern girl would love, juicy pulled pork, creamy, uber cheesy macaroni and cheese, potato salad, green beans with bacon and onions, baked beans and coleslaw.  I ate a lot of it, an embarrassing amount of it.   …and I don’t feel guilty.

I was accountable all week, knowing I had this event coming up.  Although I didn’t know how MUCH I would indulge that night, I knew that Saturday’s breakfast and lunch would be light and Sunday’s food choices would be CLEAN.

Making the decision to eat the cake was last minute.  I was more worried that I would find myself craving the sugar again the next day.  Surprisingly, I didn’t.  Well…. I didn’t crave it any more than I have been over the last 13 days.  I’m make progress and getting over that insane craving hump.

I AM conquering this addiction!

Now, for something that makes me REALLY uncomfortable…

I am a girl that is RARELY seen without makeup.  It’s just one of those things about me.  I don’t feel “complete” without it.  I don’t feel presentable to the world and I am NOT comfortable going out of my house without it.  In fact, I put it on regardless of what the day may bring…going out and about or staying in.

I’m not sure where this feeling or notion came from.  I certainly wasn’t raised that way.  In fact, my mom made me wait an insane length of time before she’d let me start painting myself with the “war paint”, as my dad would say.

Regardless, it’s a crutch and probably not a good one.  So, yesterday, I MADE myself go makeup free.  I wasn’t leaving the house for anything.  I didn’t need to get made up for anyone, right?  Several times I found myself walking into the bathroom, cringing at the sight of my undone face and WANTING to reach for the makeup bag.  But…like the sugar, I made myself stop.

I try to teach my Monkey that she is BEAUTIFUL exactly as God made her.  I don’t want her to think her beauty, or any woman’s beauty, is determined by how well she can apply blush and eye shadow.  I don’t even believe that.  Honestly, I don’t.  Some of the women I deem the MOST beautiful don’t wear a stitch of the stuff.  So, this is just something within myself about MYSELF that I need to work on.

What better way to crush this fear than share with EVERYONE my naked face.  I was inspired by a dear friend who put her naked face out there on Instagram for everyone to see.  …and she was BEAUTIFUL!

So, I should do the same thing, right?

CRINGE!!!!

Here goes nothing!

Naked FaceThere it is.  Clean face, the way God made me.

As much as this puts a pit in my stomach it’s somewhat liberating.

Comfort zone BLASTED.

 

Peace, love and breaking boundaries!!!

 

Progress Report

I’m eight days into my sugar detox.

This has NOT been easy.  I have had MAD cravings for Sour Patch Kids, brownies, cookies and anything covered in frosting.  The weekend was, by far, the worst.  Boredom makes me want to reach for the candy jar or whatever baked treat we may have laying around.

I am happy to say that I WON!!!!  I resisted the temptation and am still on track.

Have I noticed any differences?

Yes.

I keep hearing about “puffiness” being directly related to not only sodium levels in our body, but also sugar intake.  One thing I was struggling with was a general “puffy” feeling in my midsection.  After eight full days I feel like this has definitely been reduced.  It’s not totally gone and I’m sure will take some time, but I HAVE noticed a difference.  My energy level has also increased.  I don’t have the mid-afternoon crashes that I was experiencing.  I can power through my day and not feel like I need a nap.

I do have a dilemma.  I have a wedding to attend this weekend and am debating on allowing myself the indulgence of wedding cake.  I talked with a good friend who I called on for my support through this. She supported me in either decision telling me that regardless of what I choose I need to decide BEFORE I get there.  (Good point!)  If I decide to stay strong and NOT partake in the cake that’s great, but if I want to have a treat that I should make the decision ahead of time and enjoy the piece guilt-free.  In her words, “you’re eating one piece, not the WHOLE cake”.  Very true.  I’m really leaning toward NOT indulging and powering through it.

My goal in this detox wasn’t just to rid myself of the puffy feeling I’ve been experiencing, but to whip this addiction in the Heineken!!!  I am not a person who likes the feeling of being helpless to an addiction.  I do NOT like feeling like I’m not in control of this.  With all of that in mind, if I can make it through a wedding without giving in to the temptation it would be such a HUGE accomplishment.  The only way to rid yourself of a habit or addiction is to NOT give in to it.

I think my answer is probably pretty clear, but I still have a few days to make it concrete.

I will say this.  As each day passes, it gets a little easier to say no.  Yesterday was a great example.  We had a food day for a co-worker’s birthday.  I didn’t eat a single cookie, bake goodie, piece of candy or Rice Krispie treat.  Not even a tiny taste.  …and the reality of it was that I didn’t have that hard of a time saying no.

It was a good day.

TODAY will be a good day!!!

…and tomorrow will be another.  I’m keeping positive thoughts!

 

 

Peace, love and sugar free!!!

I Think I Must Be Crazy!!!!!

candyI’ve decided to put myself on a sugar DETOX for the month of October.

“Why?”, you ask.

Well…

I’ve kind of, fallen off the wagon in the sweets department.  Sugar is truly, my drug.  I reach for it when I’m bored, sad, happy, hungry, ummmm…. pretty much any time.  It’s bad.  Really.  Really.  Bad.  While I do extremely well with low-calorie, low-fat, well balanced meals, I have a BIG problem with dessert and candy.  I need to get it reined in.

While I was in the biggest part of my weight loss battle, fighting the sugar seemed easier.  I KNEW it was the enemy.  I KNEW it was totally off limits.  I wouldn’t LOSE the weight if I didn’t abide by that rule.

Things change when you get to the maintenance phase of your healthier lifestyle.  You’re “allowed” to let a few things back in, but in small, moderate amounts.  Here’s the problem.  If those things that you’re allowing back in in small increments were the things that were detrimental to your whole healthy state of being in the first place then you probably shouldn’t really allow them back at all.

…and that’s where I’m at.  I know my sugar habit has a tendency to get out of control.  I need to quit the stuff all together for a while and relearn how to get the cravings under control.  I know I’ll feel better.

Now, I will say that I am NOT cutting out ALL sugar.  I WILL be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  They are crucial to my own digestive health.  I am NOT cutting out natural sugars.  I am eliminating the processed sugars.

So, why do I think I’m crazy?

Two reasons:

A.) For whatever INSANE reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to start this during the WORST time of the month for any woman.  My cravings are OFF the hook!

and

B.) Who in their right mind would start a sugar detox in the month of OCTOBER, when more candy is bought, given and consumed than we can fathom?!?!  Me, that’s who does that.  ME!

These two factors make me, legitimately, OFF MY ROCKER!  This will surely be a challenge.

This is day two.  This is SUCCESSFULLY day two!  It was a tough one.  I REALLY wanted something sweet this afternoon.  I opted for a cup of coffee instead.  (My second biggest weakness, but a “legal” one.)  It worked.  Craving satisfied.

I have called on several dear friends to hold me accountable and I know they will.  I’m relying on it.  I’m hoping to rely on all of you to hold me to it, too.  I’m going to keep you updated on my thirty-one days.  I’m hoping that all the updates will be good ones, but even if I fall I’m going to be honest.

Accountable.

Wish me luck!!

 

Peace, love and sugar FREE!!!

Salsa…. FOR REAL!!!

Salsa6 copyI have to confess that I am a chips and salsa JUNKIE!  I could eat it everyday , three times a day, for the rest of my life and still not get enough of it.  It’s quite possible that I may need an intervention.

I always thought that I made pretty good homemade fresh salsa.  It was always the pico style.  Finely chopped tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro with the perfect touch of lime juice and salt.  We always liked it.

My friends I was SOOOOO wrong!!!!

Several months ago, a co-worker, who has since become a dear friend, Jennifer, started sharing her Hispanic family’s food secrets.  You can bet your tail end that my ears perked up and I started taking notes of EVERY thing she told me!!  I asked question after question after question.  She gave me answers after answers after answers.  …and then…. I asked her if I could share some of her secrets with all of you and she said YES!!!!!  I was SO excited!!!!

One of the first things she educated me on was the proper way to make salsa.  My jaw dropped a little bit and I was completely intrigued.  I’ll admit that I was TOTALLY skeptical of the technique and the absence of one of the ingredients that I SWORE was key to good salsa.

Are you guys ready to learn?  It’s does take just a tad bit more time than our American way of making pico, but no more effort.  I know that sounds strange.  You will want to make sure that you have either a STAINLESS STEEL skillet or cast iron skillet (DO NOT USE A TEFLON COATED PAN) and a food processor or blender.

Salsa1 copyThese will be the only ingredients you need. Five or six medium to large tomatoes, jalapenos (We like it hot so I use three.  Use however many will suit the heat level you prefer.  Please consider that you will NOT be seeding the peppers.), 3 large cloves garlic, 2 limes, one bunch of cilantro and salt.

Salsa2 copyHeat your STAINLESS STEEL/CAST IRON skillet over medium to medium high heat.  You want the pan to be dry.  Do not spray with any sort of cooking spray or oil.  When the skillet is really hot put the tomatoes, garlic and peppers in.  Folks, we are BLACKENING our veggies!!!!  You heard me.  We’re going to char these puppies.  Don’t get nervous when the food starts dancing and talking to you.  That’s when you know everything is getting REALLY happy in that pan.

Salsa3 copyThis is what’s going to happen.  This is EXACTLY what you want to happen.  You want as much blackening on the tomatoes as possible.  This is where your CRAZY, INSANE, GOOD flavor is going to come from.  The garlic will blacken before anything else.  Simply remove it and go ahead and put it in the food processor/blender while everything else finishes up.  Move the tomatoes around.  Lean them against each other to get some char on as much of their surface as possible.  Flip the peppers over to char all sides of them as well.

Salsa4 copyThis what you’re aiming for.  After you get as much blackening as possible remove them from the pan onto a cutting board to cool until you can handle them.  Cut the stem end of the peppers off and cut into a few smaller chunks and put into the food processor/blender.  Cut the tomatoes in half (DO NOT REMOVE THE SKINS), remove the core and gently squeeze some of the excess water from the tomato.  This helps to keep your salsa on the slightly thicker side.  After you’ve “juiced” the tomatoes a bit, place them in the food processor as well.  Make sure not to lose any of the black bits on the skin.  Add the cilantro, juice of 2 limes and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mix.  Process everything until well blended and all the big chunks are gone.

….and VOILA!!!  There you have it.  Your salsa is DONE!

DSC_0341 copyGrady and I were completely blown away the first time we made this.  We couldn’t believe how AMAZING it is!!  The blackening is the key to the flavor.

Do you know what I DIDN’T put in the salsa?

Onion!

There is NO onion anywhere near this salsa.  There will NEVER again be an onion anywhere near my salsa.  It doesn’t need it.  We even tried adding it once when we botched a batch by accident (by trying to blacken them on the grill… doesn’t work) and thought we could fix it.  NOPE!  It STUNK with the onion flavor.  One of the things I learned was that when blending salsa with onion, its the onion that makes it frothy.  …and the onion will go bad quickly giving it the rancid taste after only a few days in the fridge.

So go ahead and do this…DSC_0347 copy…because it will last in a jar for up to two weeks in the fridge.

If you can keep from eating it all for that long.

I know you’re just as intrigued by this as I was.  You think I’m nuts for wanting to “burn” my tomatoes, but you’re going to try it.  Aren’t you?  (wink! wink!)

I’m telling you, my friend, Jennifer, is AMAZING!  I have several more of her secrets to share with you somewhere down the line.

 

Peace, love and char!!!!